How To Be More Productive

Let’s start off with a caveat: I don’t run a country, have any dependents or 10 million hobbies. Nevertheless I would consider myself to be pretty organised but being organised doesn’t automatically make you productive!

I’m in my first year of a PhD programme and my upgrade is coming up soon. The upgrade is basically where a couple of academics meet you to determine if you, and your project, are good enough to carry on to the second year. As you can imagine, there is a lot of work to do to get prepared! So here are the things I have been doing to boost my productivity:

WeekPlan @weekplan

An example from the WeekPlan website

This app is so good and, best of all, it is free! It is a weekly planner that is task, rather than time, orientated. It is really easy to use and it forces you to plan your time properly and then to focus on the task at hand. There are also boxes called Roles (be it Mother, Sister, Friend, Accountant, whatever) that you can allocate tasks to but these aren’t associated with any particular day. All in all, so useful and it makes a very satisfying noise when you tick something as complete.

Have Other Commitments

Lisabeth Westwood productive tips


Being busier makes you be more productive: you are less likely to get everything done because you don’t have a time constraint. Whether your commitments are walking your Grandma’s dog, going to Pilates, or meeting up with a friend for a cinema date every Wednesday, having other stuff on forces you to get shit done. This blog has been so helpful for that too as not only do I love writing it but it means I have to organise my time better.

Be Accountable

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This is my actual to do list from last week! The boyfriend’s handwriting, not mine.

I’m not sure about you but unless I tell someone else about what I want to achieve then I’m more likely to procrastinate. By telling people your goals (be it daily or weekly), they can check up on how things are going and this can be a good way to keep productivity up. Last week me and my boyfriend both worked from home so in order to stop the inevitable chat breaks we both decided on four things that we wanted to achieve that day. We then held each other accountable and the day was super productive meaning that we could finish early and go for a drink!

Learn What Environments Suit You


Some people need silence to be productive, others prefer to blast ABBA out of their speakers and singalong whilst working. Also, the same place won’t work for everyone, every task, or every mood. Find what works for you and try that. For example, the library does not work for me as I get distracted and my productivity dips; I prefer to work with other people so we can chat when we want to but then get focussed.